Event Calendar

1932: Polish Cipher Bureau Success!

Friday, December 1, 2017

1932: Polish Cipher Bureau Success!

Description: 1 December 1932: Polish Cipher Bureau first solved ENIGMA message. (Read an article in our Cryptologic Bytes Archives about Poland's Overlooked Enigma Codebreakers.")

Polish mathematicians from the University of Poznan (pictured above, from left): Marian Rejewski, Jerzy Rozycki, and Henryk Zygalski broke the Enigma code, the most important encryption machine used by Nazi Germany. The success of the Polish cryptologists from the Cryptology Bureau enabled the British to read encrypted German correspondences during World War II, contributing to the wartime success of the allies.

In 1928, when the German military began using the cipher machine, Enigma, the Polish Cipher Bureau began its efforts to break it. They hired the three mathematicians in 1932 to do just that! The team worked for months to determine the wiring of the rotors. Using a mathematical equation and key lists acquired from a German traitor, they determined the three rotors' internal wiring. They discovered three ways of deciphering Enigma readings. The Polish team then exploited some of the Germans' standardized methods and successfully read many of the encrypted messages. They read the first one on December 1, 1932. They were in business...at least for a time...Seven years later, just before war broke out, the Poles handed over their knowledge of the Enigma codes, as well as Polish-built replicas of the machines, to British and French Intelligence officers near Warsaw.

The government official said that in recognition of the trio's efforts, the upper house of Poland's parliament has passed a resolution in their honor to 'restore justice'. The resolution reads: 'In both popular literature and official information, the public was told that the breaking of the Enigma codes was due to the work of the British Intelligence services to the complete omission of the work of Polish scientists.'